If you have questions about why I put all the Flashman books into one review, a recent blog entry I made about how and why I review books might help.
The recent death of George McDonald Fraser has brought a close (maybe permanent, maybe not?) to this delightful series of books. I have had the pleasure of following this series every since the release of the first book back in the sixties. The Flashman novels combine history (including substantial endnotes) with sex, action, adventure and the secret pleasure of enjoying the exploits of one of the most notoriously popular non-politically correct characters of 20th Century literature. Flashman is a womanizer, a coward, a scoundrel and a cheat, but in the novels, which are all narrated by Flashman himself, he is utterly honest with his readers. He is a man not proud of his faults, but certainly unabashed about them.
The Flashman novels could be dismissed as sensationalized light reading , but Fraser cleverly tied his character into most of the major events of the last sixty years of the nineteenth century, a Victorian Zelig or Forrest Gump. Flashman casually mentions this minor detail or that simple observation, then Fraser in his assumed role as editor of the Flashman papers meticulously explains in the endnotes how these mentions by Flashman confirm the truth of his narrative, since only if Flashman was there could he have known about this fact or that. Fraser's endnotes also round out the historic details of the narrative, giving background and elaboration to the history-as-I-lived-it tales told by Flashman. It all works wonderfully, even if you somewhat suspect that some details are being outrageously fabricated.
I very strongly recommend these books to anyone who has an interest in history and is willing to keep an open mind towards the womanizing and the language (the n-word appears quite a bit, but completely in character for Flashman). I would suggest the best way to read them is in order of publication. This doesn't follow Flashman's own life chronology, but the books published later often make reference to previous editions of the "Flashman Papers" and so is more fun for the reader to follow.
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